Gene Lyons: Maybe Duck Dynasty crew should seek out Bill Russell for comment on the happy, singing black folk of Louisiana | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gene Lyons: Maybe Duck Dynasty crew should seek out Bill Russell for comment on the happy, singing black folk of Louisiana

Posted By on Wed, Dec 25, 2013 at 7:22 AM

click to enlarge dynasty.jpg

Lots of good observations by Gene Lyons this week on the "Duck Dynasty" hooraw. For one thing, it's theater. For another, some of their comments have been appalling, so appalling that even Fox's Bill O'Reilly gets it about vilifying a group of people as unworthy.

Gene says the Duck boys may have won the most recent round as a right-wing cause of the day. But he predicts:

Longer term, however, unapologetic bigots always fade into obscurity, basically because they embarrass people.  

The full column follows:

By Gene Lyons

Now that I’ve actually seen a few episodes, “Duck Dynasty” is relatively harmless entertainment. Whatever “reality-TV” means, it’s definitely not that. It’s a semi-scripted sitcom, basically cornball self-parody. Think “Hee Haw” without the music. I find it utterly inane, but then I don't watch TV with children.

The "tell" is the show’s women, cute Southern sorority girls turned mommies. In real life, no way would those women tolerate their “menfolk” running around looking like a truckload of ZZ-Top impersonators. They’re also not going on TV with hay in their hair like some Hollywood director’s idea of a country girl. Every comedy needs a straight man; on “Duck Dynasty” it’s the women.

But realism? Please. The beards, hair and overalls are costumes every bit as theatrical as the outfits the Rolling Stones wear onstage. In the rural Arkansas county where I live, you could hang around the feed store for a month without seeing anybody like “Duck Dynasty” “patriarch” (and head bigot) Phil Robertson. And if you did, his wife wouldn’t have any teeth.

The Robertsons are country-clubbers posing as rednecks. Duck hunting itself—requiring, as it does, quite a bit of expensive gear and pricey leases—is mainly a rich man's pastime in the South. Deer hunting makes economic sense; duck hunting's a luxury. It's what doctors, lawyers and bankers do when the weather's too lousy for golf. Bill Clinton used to go duck hunting once a year to prove he loved guns.

(My own most recent (and final) duck hunting trip began with me tasked with lugging an outboard motor across a muddy soybean field at 5:30 AM. Never again.)

But I digress. Although many Southerners wince at yokel stereotypes, the basic “Duck Dynasty” joke is that every redneck is a Peter Pan at heart. The Robertson men spend their time bickering like children and making mischief with pickup trucks, ATVs, shotguns, handguns, deer rifles, chainsaws, outboard motors, dynamite, etc. Basically anything that makes loud noises and/or throws mud around.

How long, I wonder, before the “Duck Dynasty” boys endorse the “Bad Boy” brand of riding mowers? Currently represented by a half-clothed model urging guys to “Get a Bad Boy, Baby!” these machines have the magical capacity to convert a tax accountant mowing a suburban half-acre under his wife’s supervision to a daredevil NASCAR racer. Yee Haw!

But the laughter ended abruptly when “Duck Commander” Phil Robertson inserted himself into the nation’s vituperative culture wars. The whole thing looked like a publicity stunt gone wrong—possibly successful in the short run, but almost certain to prove destructive in the end.
Concerning which, a few thoughts:

First, Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal notwithstanding, nobody has a First Amendment right to appear on TV. Make controversial public pronouncements deeply offensive to your employers, and you’d better have a backup plan.

The creator and producer of “Duck Dynasty” is one Scott Gurney, who once appeared in a gay-themed film called “The Fluffer.” (Don’t ask.)
The guy helps make you rich and famous, and you denounce gays as evil? That’s appalling.

Second, it has nothing to do with Christianity. Robertson didn’t just say he’s against gay marriage, nor even that God is. He spoke in the coarsest possible terms about homosexuality, equating it with bestiality.

He’s elsewhere characterized gay men and women as “full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, god haters, they are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless, they invent ways of doing evil.”

Here’s my favorite moral philosopher Fox News’ own Bill O’Reilly:

“It’s not about the Bible, or believing or not believing in the Bible. It’s singling out a group, could be any group, and saying to that group ‘Hey, you’re not worthy. You’re not worthy in the eyes of the Lord, or in the eyes of God, you’re not worthy because of who you are.’ So once you get that personal, once you get down into that kind of a realm, problems arise.”

Third, ten years ago, many of the same people portraying Robertson as a martyr burned Dixie Chicks CDs and cheered their banishment from country radio stations for the terrible crime of saying they were embarrassed by George W. Bush before everybody was.
And those girls have genuine talent.

Fourth, as for the happy, singing darkies of Robertson’s Louisiana childhood, where are they on “Duck Dynasty”? Know what the African-American population of Monroe/West Monroe is? It’s roughly 60 percent. I’ve seen no black faces on the program.

Another prominent American from West Monroe is Boston Celtics great Bill Russell—a black man who’s been known to have strong opinions about race. Maybe Robertson ought to talk with him, although it wouldn’t be easy.

“Duck Dynasty” may be this month’s right wing cause célèbre. Longer term, however, unapologetic bigots always fade into obscurity, basically because they embarrass people.  

Tags: , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (18)

Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016
  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • John Goodson and others add lawyers for hearing on forum shopping

    Lawyers facing federal court sanctions for forum shopping a class action insurance case have brought in new legal guns from out of state to fight potential sanctions.
    • May 26, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation